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United States national team player ratings vs. Panama

Jun 12, 2013, 1:15 AM EDT

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIER-USA-PAN

GK Tim Howard (7): Just a night at the office for Jurgen Klinsmann’s first choice in goal, with only some routine catches and one punch to manage until stoppage time. Howard was quick off his line to stuff Luis Tejada, who sneaked in behind the U.S. in the 92nd minute.

RB Brad Evans (4): If Panama wasn’t so punchless in attack, this whole thing could look quite different. Because the Sounders man’s early defending went from splotchy in the first 15 minutes to downright exposed later in the half. Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron rushed over to help several times. Not much of a factor on the U.S. attack.

CB Omar Gonzalez (7): As mentioned, he provided lots of help for Evans and was solid and well-positioned. The Galaxy man did get caught unawares late on Tejada’s sneaky run behind the back line. Otherwise, confident and mistake-free in the tackles and aerial challenges.

CB Matt Besler (6): Usually the better passer of the U.S. center backs Tuesday. The Sporting KC defender was pushed a little once Panama brought on its second striker, and the communication with Gonzalez remains a work in progress. A little smaller than Gonzalez, he probably benefitted more from Blas Perez’s absence along Panama’s front line.

LB DaMarcus Beasley (6): Two inviting crosses early warned Panama that it would need to be alert, and that opened up space for Fabian Johnson and Dempsey.  All the defensive trouble came down the opposite side as Panama clearly had Evans targeted. His 70th minute dash was a lung buster, and Beasley was very nearly rewarded for it (but hit the post on Jozy Altidore’s nifty pass). One demerit for Beasley, whose late yellow card was silly; now he’ll miss next week’s match in Salt Lake City.

MF Geoff Cameron (8): Who saw this coming? What a breakout night from the guy who had such a tough night two weeks ago as a right back against Belgium. His tracking, tackling, defensive position and ability to cover plenty of ground were superb. How many times did he stretch those long legs in to nick something away? The communication with Michael Bradley appeared spotless as Cameron worked just in behind the U.S. midfield leader. Cameron’s early passing was way too loose, although he made up for some much of it with that awesome ball into Eddie Johnson for a second U.S. goal. Like Gonzalez, he was diligent in offering assistance for Evans. (Almost forgot: Cameron won the second ball and immediately pushed it to Bradley for the first U.S. goal.)

MF Michael Bradley (8): Is there a time when Michael Bradley is not in the right spot, on offense or defense? Probably … but it sure doesn’t happen very often. He is always an available outlet and almost always moves the ball along with a clarity of choice. (Someone check the stats, because he may not have given away a possession all night!). Bradley’s 22nd minute shot looked goal-bound, but hit Clint Dempsey, and the timing on runs into the 18 carried its usual effectiveness.

RW Eddie Johnson (7): The hometown hero looked surprising comfortable in his wide role as a winger or midfielder or something in between. There was a good variety to his game, one that mixed short passing with timely dribbling, a couple of crosses and mostly good choices. And the goal, of course! Johnson was not always in the best spots to help Evans, but what do we expect? The guy is a forward, after all.

MF Clint Dempsey (7): Worked his usual spots behind Jozy Altidore, combining wonderfully through the night with the U.S. striker and with Fabian Johnson on the left, too.  Panama never seemed to find the U.S. captain, who got on the ball in different spots and didn’t ever hit his “default,” which is to try doing too much on his own. Dempsey’s near-post run was critical in that first-half goal, by the way.

LW Fabian Johnson (6): Responded critically to a challenge from Klinsmann, who asked him to find more ways to get involved. That’s always like a Klinsmann “yellow card,” meaning the young midfielder was close to fumbling away his starting spot. Sure enough, Johnson crushed an early shot, but went high with it. His crossing wasn’t always the best, but he got into position with varied runs and was certainly laser-targeted with than left-footed cross to Altidore. His relationship and chemistry with Beasley happened fast, and it’s quite something.

FW Jozy Altidore (8): If the young U.S. striker can nail the balance he found Tuesday, with wonderful technical work, parlayed with smart decisions and lots of hard work, he’ll be an automatic choice for the United States for a long, long time. Altidore found a variety of ways to get involved, running at defenders here and there, working the combos in the 20- to 30-yard range and popping out wide just enough to be difficult to track. Other than scoring in his third consecutive match, the AZ striker probably should have won a 34th minute penalty kick, too.

Subs:

Brad Davis … late sub for Fabian Johnson

Joe Corona … late sub for Eddie Johnson

Stuart Holden … late sub for Altidore.

  1. wfjackson3 - Jun 12, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    I have to nitpick Omar getting a better grade than Besler. Gonzales was lucky to not have let in ANOTHER goal from not paying attention. That is one of the basic jobs to be done at CB. I can’t justify giving him above a 5 until he cuts that crap out.

    If I am nitpicking Bradley, there were a few times where I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t attack, but thats probably a bit much.

    Evans, though good recently and playing with plenty of guts, has a long way to go to be reliable during the actual World Cup. It would be nice to see Chandler working with this squad.

  2. mrstev - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    Pretty much agreed.
    My nitpick would be that you’ve got Beasley too low at a 6. His defending was solid all night and he was a constant threat going forward. I thought he was great tonight.

    I like Brad Evans but man is he slow. Little Stevie can’t return to the lineup quick enough for me!

  3. skinnydinosaurs - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    I thought Besler was the better of the CBs and despite Dempsey’s great combination and off the ball play I don’t quite think he earner his grade tonight either. All together, the most compete match we’ve put together this year. I hope the points lead has us leaning towards this type of attacking mindset through the remainder of the hex.

  4. mrpaisley - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    While I’m sure your player ratings are incredibly accurate

    Dempsey did not sub off, Johnson did.

  5. player169 - Jun 12, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    3 other people have pointed out the Besler / Gonzo thing already. +3

  6. adslazaro - Jun 12, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Evans was exposed because Eddie Johnson gave him basically zero support up the right wing defensively. If you’re going to ding him, you have to lower Johnson’s score as well.

  7. boscoesworld - Jun 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I agree with all the grades but Evans and Johnson. Evan as stated in the article, he got little help from Johnson. Panama knew that EJ is no defender and attacked that side all night. If you give Evans a low grade then lower Johnson’s too since he played one way all night.

  8. charliej11 - Jun 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    4 is a little harsh for Evans, and 7 is a little generous for Dempsey.

  9. gamechanger77 - Jun 12, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Steve Davis,

    Good article, but there are so many misspellings and misused words. Do you have an editor or do you proof-read your own work? I agree with your comments and grades though.

  10. Scott Hevel - Jun 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    When Jones, Zusi, and Donovan get back, will this team need to go with a 4-5-1 or will Dempsey have to move up top? Should be very interesting

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